Capital Transit plans to open its new Mendenhall Valley Transit Center opposite the Mendenhall Shopping Center in July, and when it does, bus route schedules will have to change, and transit officials are asking the public what that they would like. to see from the city buses.
Open houses were held on Wednesday and Thursday and Capital Transit has posted a poll on its website and will seek public comment through April 29. gift card to Fred Meyer. Only one of each prize will be awarded.
On Thursday, transit officials were at the downtown public library to answer questions from members of the public.
“It’s not a system overhaul, but we need to make changes to the schedule,” said Denise Koch, deputy director of the engineering and public works department for the city and borough of Juneau. “We have to change things and that presents trade-offs and choices.”
Some of those trade-offs include things like longer overall travel times, but with more time for riders to transfer bus routes, Koch said, more frequent routes, or routes specifically focused on commuter travel. . Transit officials aren’t planning any new routes, Koch said, with the possible exception of an express route between the Mendenhall Valley and transit hubs in downtown Juneau.
Construction of the transit center is currently underway on Mendenhall Mall Road between the Asiana Gardens restaurant and the Heritage Coffee Roasting Co. store, and is expected to open this summer, Koch said.
Agaki Jim, 20, took the survey at the open day on Tuesday and said she used the bus almost every day.
“Most of the time I wish I could come straight downtown because I have an appointment that I go to every day,” Jim said.
A direct bus between the two transit hubs — what Koch called a “super express” route — is one of the options transit officials are seeking comment on.
The center’s construction costs about $2 million and is funded by a grant from the Federal Transportation Administration, said Alec Vanechuk, Capital Transit’s project manager for the center. The city provided local matching funding with the purchase of about $1.2 million of the land from the owners of the Mendenhall Mall, Vanechuk said.
The new center will include shelters for cyclists and public toilets as well as an indoor break room for drivers, fully enclosed bike lockers and more than 30 parking spaces, some with electric vehicle charging, for users of Park-and-Ride. The current transit center is located behind the Nugget Mall and has no amenities for passengers or drivers.
The center will eventually include charging capabilities for electric buses, but transit officials could not say when that work will be fully completed. Because Juneau is a rural transit hub, the city has no direct receiving authority for federal grants, said Richard Ross, superintendent of transit. That means the grant money has to go to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Facilities, which then passes it on to public transit, Ross said, and that process can take some time.
Without the funding available, Ross said the city is unable to place an order for the equipment, meaning completion of the center’s bus charging infrastructure is likely at least two years away. .
Capital Transit is looking to expand its charging infrastructure as it seeks to add more electric vehicles to the fleet, Koch said.
The city currently has only one electric bus and a grant is pending for seven more. The city’s electric bus suffered mechanical problems, Public Works told the CBJ Assembly in January, and its battery struggled to hold a charge during winter trips.
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